The news media has been put on notice: Libel lawsuits are a favorite tactic of Donald Trump’s inner circle.
Close on the heels of a Maryland court’s dismissal of Melania Trump’s first libel lawsuit against the Daily Mail’s publisher, Mail Media Inc, her lawyers have filed a new suit against the company — about the same allegedly libelous statements in New York State.
The lawsuit seeks $150 million in damages, due to what the lawyers describe as lost business opportunities as a result of the Daily Mail’s libelous statement.
In an article published in August 2016, the Daily Mail repeated claims made by a Slovenian magazine that Melania Trump had worked as an escort in the earlier part of her career. She vehemently denied this and brought a libel lawsuit against Mail Media Inc in Maryland. (The Mailretracted the story after Trump’s first lawsuit).
However, Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Sharon Burrell ruled that Maryland had no jurisdiction in the matter, despite Trump’s lawyers’ argument that some of the traffic to the Daily Mail’s Web site comes from the state.
The new libel lawsuit was filed in New York because Mail Media Inc. has corporate offices there.
In the lawsuit, Trump’s lawyers claim the allegedly libelous statements published by the Daily Mail caused her to miss out on “the unique, one-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as an extremely famous and well-known person, as well as a former professional model, brand spokesperson and successful businesswoman, to launch a broad-based commercial brand in multiple product categories, each of which could have garnered multi-million dollar business relationships for a multi-year term during which Plaintiff is one of the most photographed women in the world.”
According to the initial filing, the foregone business opportunity would have covered categories including “apparel, accessories, jewelry, cosmetics, hair care and fragrance.” But it doesn’t state how the claims published by the Daily Mail caused her to lose this opportunity.
Separately, Trump’s lawyers settled out of court with Maryland-based blogger Webster Tarpley for making the same libelous claims, which he also retracted; Tarpley reportedly agreed to pay a substantial sum to settle the case.Trump’s legal team is led by Charles Harder, the lawyer who successfully sued Gawker Media on behalf of Hulk Hogan, eventually winning a $140 million settlement and forcing the online gossip publisher into bankruptcy.
Afterwards, it was revealed that Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, a Trump ally, had secretly bankrolled Hogan’s lawsuit in revenge for Gawker “outing” him as a homosexual in 2007.